Friday, August 23, 2013

(Bald) Bob The ('Tached) Builder!

I was talking nonsense about Bob the Builder on the Twitter earlier this week, and ended up chatting to Curtis Jobling, illustrator/concept designer extraordinaire, who did a lot of the concept drawings for Hit Entertainment, as well as being the man behind Raa Raa the Noisy Lion. Sadly, all the concept work he did for my Bob episodes is now with Hit, locked away in a big safe because of their raw and terrible beauty, and also the disturbing tentacle stuff and the occult references, but he did have some early concept art he was able to share with me.

I've always been fascinated with concept art, and early versions of now-familiar characters. Did you know Dora the Explorer started out as a large man named Gonzales, for example? And he was a grocer and martial arts expert, not an explorer. And it wasn't animated, it was a eight hour documentary series. Actually maybe I'm thinking of something else.


Curtis explains:
4 things I had to change with Bob, who isn't a million miles away from character who appears on screen.
1) His feet were too small as a puppet, he would've wobbled around and fallen over like a sherry'd up old lady.
2) Hands were too small, couldn't hold and manipulate tools.
3) I thought I was being clever (which I was) giving him a 'tache so that when he spoke we didn't need to worry about lip-sync - one would just waggle the 'tache. Turns out that this wasn't going to work because, according to research, preschool kids are scared of facial hair. Apparently so. I don't know what this research involved. I like to think it involved BBC execs wearing fake beards, hiding in bushes outside a preschool and when the bell goes they leap out and shout BOO at the kids... which would scare me too... so Bob had a shave.
4) Lastly, I thought it'd be hilarious to give Bob a fat pair of burners and when he takes his helmet off he's bald as a coot on top. Bosses said no, Curtis, this isn't funny: give him hair. I insisted they were missing a trick, this would get big laughs. They said: 'Do you want to work on this show???'. I said: 'Let's see what he looks like with hair!' And that's how he got a mop top.
And a couple more:

So there we go. Be you a writer or designer in television, there's always compromises to be made. I had to lose the 'BB' logo from the wrought iron gate too, groovy though it was. Reason being foreign language versions of the show. Works great for Bob the Builder, Bob le Bricoleur, Bob derBaumeister and Byggmester Bob. Not so good for the Finnish Puuha Pete....

Many thanks to Curtis for this - Bob fans should also check out Curtis' site for info on his illustrated kids' books, and for older kids, his Wereworld series.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Excellent. Beautiful work, too. I remember seeing Matt Groening doing sketches of Homer and Bart, then saying he wasn't good enough to work on the show. That's not very relevant. I just remember seeing it.